When we think about customer experience it can be easy to slip into thinking of it as only being a single interaction. Like a completed transaction, a visit to our website, blog or page or even a communication (via email, on the phone or in chat).
The reality is that customer experience is all of those interactions and much more combined altogether.
In fact the customer experience starts the moment a person becomes aware of your business or brand and includes every contact, transaction, exchange and interaction they have either directly or indirectly with you and your business.
In the world of marketing metrics each of these contacts, transactions, exchanges and interactions is called a Touch Point.
Touch Points are vital for your business because they either strengthen or weaken the emotional, physical or psychological connection a customer has with your business or brand.
The tricky thing about touch points is that they can be direct (an advertisement you run), indirect (a conversation between neighbors), intentional (an email you send) or unintentional (a customer comment on a review site).
This makes managing, controlling and being responsible for all your touch points a complicated task. So instead businesses that are leveraging customer experience as part of their competitive advantage are keeping track of their touch points and collecting data about them. Giving them a way to assess if overall the customer experience for their business is positive or negative as well as giving them insight into what does or doesn't work.
Tracking Your Touch Points
To track your touch points you first need to know what and where they are (you can use an exercise book to record your findings or simply set up a spreadsheet for the job of tracking).
Identifying Your Touch Points
You begin by writing down the obvious touch points first on scraps of paper or post-it-notes. These will be touch points like search engine listings (organic, PPC), emails (casual communication, transaction messages, automated, campaigns, sign-up process, unsubscribe) website (copy, articles, blog posts, sales pages, thank you, confirmations, videos, mp3s, downloadable documents, forms, contact info), webinars (invitations, registration, reminders, presentation, software use, follow ups), transactions (descriptions, shopping cart, payment processing, terms & conditions, shipping, delivery, after sales support, confirmations, invoices, receipts, returns, refunds, helpdesk, account problems) loyalty and referral programs etc...
This as you can no doubt imagine creates a pretty long list of touch points.
Depending on your desire for completeness you can stop here or go on and identify more touch points, specifically those that are less obvious like direct messages from social media, comments in forums, back linking origins, article & video marketing targets, affiliate emails etc...
Group Your Touch Points
Once you have your touch points identified you want to group them into customer lifecycle groupings. The suggestion here, is for you to go with groupings that you're most familiar with.
Here are several suggestions -
- Attraction, Interaction, Cultivation, Buyer, User, Repeat Customer, Recommender
- Reach, Acquisition, Conversion, Retention, Loyalty
- Awareness, Knowledge, Consideration, Selection, Satisfaction, Advocacy, Loyalty
- Demand, Marketing, Production, Distribution, Team, Finance
If when you begin grouping your touch points more come to mind, simply add them in.
Now that you have groups to work with, take a look at each touch point in the group. For some there will be one and only one sequence in which a person will experience these touch points. Stick these together in that fixed order.
Transfer the groups and sequences of touch points into your work book or spreadsheet, listing out every single touch point.
Why Does This Touch Point Exist
Next you'll add some data for each touch point. Starting with the Reason why the touch point exists.
It may be that a touch point exists because it's part of resolving customer problems, to identify a prospect or lead, to comply with laws, to make a transaction successful or accelerate customer conversion. Whatever the reason, note it down next to each touch point.
Who Has Greatest Control Over This Touch Point
You also want to note down Ownership details for each of your touch points. If you're working with VAs and other outsourced assistants or affiliates and referrers this can be another way you keep track of their performance.
For example, invoices may be managed by your bookkeeper, accounts department or accountant. Your article marketing by a VA or your back linking by an outsourced consultant.
People just starting out may have complete ownership over every touch point right now and as they begin to get in more help are able to update ownership in their spreadsheet or work book.
What Risks To Your Reputation Does This Touch Point Pose
On a scale of 1 - 10 you are going to rate each of your touch points for the amount of impact your thing the touch point has on changing customers from thinking you're a good business to deal with to a bad one. This is the Impact Risk for each touch point.
So giving a score of 1 would mean that if this touch point was absolutely terrible it wouldn't change your customers opinion of you. While a score of 10 would mean that this is a high risk touch point and it would be easy to lose customers here. A 5 would be something inbetween, the touch point is potentially damaging and if fixed in time could be overlooked.
There is no right or wrong score for your touch points so putting down a score based on your 'gut feeling' on things is a good way to approach it right now.
How Well Are You Handling This Touch Point
There is one more rating you are going to add to your touch points and it's Performance - how well you thing you're currently handling touch points.
This time you will grade using A, B, C, D and F. Where A is top of the calls and F is a fail.
Again this will be a subjective score based on how well you handle a particular touch point compare to your own experience of similar touch points and how others (such as competitors and rivals) handle them.
Now that you've completed your scoring you have a visual scorecard that shows you the customer experience trouble spots for your business or brand and from which you can gauge whether overall it's positive or negative.
All that's left to do now is to test, survey and improve your touch points, starting with your high Impact Risks (scores 8 - 10) that are Performing bottom of the class (grades C, D or F).
To make it easier to get started with measuring customer experience for your business or brand, we've put together a handy spreadsheet called the Touch Point Analysis Worksheet.
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